So the children of Israel served Eglon the King of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer... Judges 3:14,15
Not long ago a discussion concerning violence took place in the Oak Street Bible Shop. It seems like an unlikely topic perhaps for these gentle people, but one thing you learn is that if you spend enough time at this establishment, almost any subject will come up, and get a thorough treatment too.
Joy was lamenting the violence on television and the popular video games based on combat and other forms of mayhem. "A child today can't escape violence it seems," was her complaint. "Parents give these bloodthirsty games to children at Christmas! Can you believe it!"
Gary had to chime in. "Before the kid gets his game, there is the violence in the stores when a hundred people want to buy them and they only have twenty-five of the latest model. Parents fighting to get the last games before Christmas day. Now there's real violence."
"Oh, Gary," Joy said, "You're not taking this seriously. I'm not kidding. What kind of game gives you points for killing people?"
"Well, lets see," Gary began, "There's Mortal Kombat, and there's Killing Spree, and...”
"Gary, you're hopeless!" said Joy. "This is serious".
Sue came up with her contribution. "H. Rap Brown said, "Violence is as American as apple pie."
"You too!" Joy was really angry now. "Can't anyone see what I'm saying? Do we want a generation to grow up learning about violence instead of learning how to live together in peace?"
Glen had been taking this all in from his corner. He was unable to concentrate on the book he was browsing and placed it back on the shelf.
"I hear you, Joy. Though these games are supposed to be make believe, at least one military expert has said games desensitize young men to killing to the point that they don't even think before they pull the trigger. They often think it is just a game to really kill people.
"About 90 per cent of casualties in modern warfare are civilians, and most of these civilians are children. When you see men tossing childrens' bodies into a dump truck after an incident you get a different perspective on violence. If people were on the receiving end they would change their minds about the glories of warfare."
"You're not against all killing are you, Glen?” asked Gary.
Gary had once told us he couldn't stand to kill one of his father's Leghorns when she stopped laying eggs.
"No way I'm against killing", said Glen emphatically. "It's just that the wrong people suffer and die in almost every case. A lot of people balk at killing in the Bible.
"Unbelievers like to cite examples of violence in the Old Testament that is sanctioned by God. They call him a bloody God--one they could never believe in. Someone asked Woody Allen what were his thoughts on the numbers of people killed in the Holocaust. He said ‘I believe records were made to be broken.’”
Joy was not happy about this conversation. The whole idea of violence chilled her and she said so.
Glen brought up the example of a young mother he knew who felt the same way. "She had a child about two years old. I asked her what she would do to protect her child. ‘Anything,’ she said. ‘There's nothing I wouldn't do to protect my little boy.’
"Yet these same people, like this good woman, would never have a gun in their house. The Bible teaches that weapons and their use have a place, sanctioned by God. The Old and New Testament teach that. Of course a lot of people don't want to hear about it. Gary would you read from Luke 22 about Jesus advising his men to buy swords? I don't remember the verse."
Gary found the tab for Luke and opened his MacArthur Study Bible. Soon he found verse 35 where Jesus is warning the disciples of the perils that lay ahead for them.
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
Then he said unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Luke 22:35,36
"Notice how Jesus says, 'But now'. We're out of the Sermon on the Mount at this time. A lot has changed in a few years and it's a whole new situation."
"Keep on reading,” said Sue.
"But later on, when Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus, Jesus rebuked him," said Joy.
"Peter had been told that Jesus must die. You can't reverse the will of God with a sword. That is what Jesus meant when he warned about living by the sword. Some things must be allowed to happen, and reaching for your sword is not the answer then.
"Talleyrand told Napoleon, ‘You can do many things with bayonets, sir, but you can't sit on them.’ He was telling Napoleon that conquering is one thing, but administration is another."
Joy was truly puzzled. "I don't see which way you believe", she said. "When did God ever sanction the use of violence?...Of course, in the conquest of the Holy Land."
"And its maintenance," said Glen. "But let's look at a specific case where God raised up a man to kill an evil king, to rescue his people."
Glen asked Gary to read from Judges chapter 3. "Notice that God directs the whole operation and its aftermath," said Glen. "And notice the exact depiction of the weapon and how it is used. I believe it is the first mention of a cross-draw holster in all of history."
Gary began to read:
"So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges , of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.
And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.
And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.
And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.
So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years. Judges 3:14-30."
"What a gift!" said Joy.
"A gift from God," Glen said.